We had it all at the Ester Mine Mingle version of the Tuesday Night MTB Ride – great people, great trails, thunder, rain, hail, and some obligatory crashes!
Eleven riders left the Ester Park and headed up the Eva Creek Trail. First time in memory that we’ve gone UP that trail. Why not before? Who knows? But it was a great way to scale part of Ester Dome! (We even did a bit of good-deed-trail-clearing on the way!)
We wound our way up mining roads (there may have been some hike-a-bike) while thunder ominously boomed over the top of Ester Dome, our destination. On the way Mark had a slo-mo crash, the first of several for several of us. At the bottom of the corner single track, where Jordie decided a tube was needed for his leaking tubeless tire, Thor showered us with rain and hail. Bush overhangs were sought. Coats were donned. And roots were coated with rain for a fun ascent of the rooty singletrack. (There may have been some more hike-a-bike.)
But at the top, where we broke out onto Ester Dome Road, we were greeted with a colorful rainbow. It’s all good.
We climbed to the top of the dome and headed out the Out-and-Back. We found the hidden downhill trail. Ian reveled in using his new full boinger on the tricky trail. Others decided to take the Nugget Loop Trail to the Tri-Con Road and meet us where the downhill trail came out onto the Tri-Con. The others realized too late that they should have brought their snorkeling gear, as the puddles were brimming!
Another puddle for the whole group gave more people wet feet. Then it was a raucous downhill of the Tri-Con. Well, raucous for Ride Co-Leader Eric until — far out ahead — he went over the handlebars and landed on his shoulder. From there he walked the steep parts, Nikki graciously walking with the battered bonehead.
We all met again where the Tri-Con’s downhill grade lessened. There some other riders were a bit confused. “You crashed? But you’re a ride leader! You can’t crash!” Yes, it’s true. Ride leaders can sometimes do stupid stuff. (But his bike survived the crash just fine!)
We rode — Eric gingerly and with Ride Co-Leader Dave now firmly in charge — down the Tri-Con a ways to the Ready Bullion Creek Trail. The downs and ups of that trail were a bit tricky — muddy and slippery with rain — but amazingly almost skeeter-free. Maybe it was the chilly temps hovering around 50 or so. (If you weren’t there, aren’t you sorry you missed all this?!)
The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful. Most of the group followed trails and roads back to Ester Park. (Eric, this time with Owen as escort, took all roads.)
With the rain played out and only a rare skeeter or two, there was time to chat and have snacks.
Finally, people started peeling off for home. Eric was second-to-last to leave, which was fortunate for Ken, the last to leave, as he almost started to drive away with his bike leaned against the back of his truck! Now THAT would have been a tragic ending!
Next ride is the UAF Hidden Trails Trot. Check the ride schedule here: https://www.fairbankscycleclub.org/rides/tuesday-night-mountain-bike-rides/
(Photos by Nikki and Eric)